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Vitamins & Minerals
Botanical names: Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis
Originally from central Europe, licorice now grows all across Europe and Asia. The root is used medicinally.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Licorice has a long and highly varied record of uses. It was and remains one of the most important herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Among its most consistent and important uses are as a demulcent (soothing, coating agent) in the digestive and urinary tracts, to help with coughs, to soothe sore throats, and as a flavoring. It has also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat conditions ranging from diabetes to tuberculosis.
How to Use It
There are two types of licorice, “standard” licorice and “de-glycyrrhizinated” licorice (DGL). Each type is suitable for different conditions. The standard licorice containing glycyrrhizin should be used for respiratory infections, chronic fatigue syndrome or herpes (topical). Licorice root in capsules, 5–6 grams per day, can be used. Concentrated extracts, 250 to 500 mg three times per day, are another option. Alternatively, a tea can be made by boiling 1/2 ounce (14 grams) of root in 1 pint (500 ml) of water for fifteen minutes, then drinking two to three cups (500 to 750 ml) per day. Long-term internal use (more than two to three weeks) of high amounts (over 10 grams per day) of glycyrrhizin-containing products should be attempted only under the supervision of a doctor. Licorice creams or gels can be applied directly to herpes sores three to four times per day.
DGL is prepared without the glycyrrhizin in order to circumvent potential safety problems (see below), and is used for conditions of the digestive tract, such as ulcers. For best results, one 200 to 300 mg tablet is chewed three times per day before meals and before bed. For canker sores, 200 mg of DGL powder can be mixed with 200 ml warm water, swished in the mouth for three minutes, and then expelled. This may be repeated three or four times per day.
Licorice products that include glycyrrhizin may increase blood pressure and cause water retention and potassium deficiency. Some people are more sensitive to this effect than others. Long-term intake (more than two to three weeks) of products containing more than 1 gram of glycyrrhizin (the amount in approximately 10 grams of root) daily is the usual amount required to cause these effects. Consumption of 7 grams licorice (containing 500 mg glycyrrhizin) per day for seven days has been shown to decrease serum testosterone levels in healthy men by blocking the enzymes needed to synthesize testosterone.
However, in another study, a similar amount of licorice had only a small and statistically insignificant effect on testosterone levels. As a result of these possible side effects, long-term intake of high levels of glycyrrhizin is discouraged and should only be undertaken if prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional. Consumption of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to increase potassium intake is recommended to help decrease the chance of potassium deficiency. According to the German Commission E monograph, licorice is inadvisable for pregnant women as well as for people with liver and kidney disorders.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice extracts usually do not cause these side effects since 97% of the glycyrrhizin has been removed.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known interactions with this supplement.
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